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3.8 out of 5 stars
The Original Australians: Story of the Aboriginal People
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought this book to learn more about the primal religious practices of the Aboriginal people. I got more than I bargained for. What I found was a comprehensive study of "The Original Australians," from their migration to the continent 40,000-50,000 years ago, to the present.

Flood's work is thorough, analytical, well-researched and unbiased. She obviously loves the indigenous people of whom she writes, yet she does not patronize them or romanticize their history or their plight.

Neither does she condemn the English, who first colonized "New Holland," or the Australian government, who enacted laws that forever changed the course of Aboriginal life.

Flood proves to be both a scholar, who honestly reports the facts, and a compassionate human, who cares deeply for the objects of her research.

I recommend this book highly. Where other books on Aboriginals tend to be anecdotal in nature, Flood's book is meaty, yet digestible; objective, yet heartfelt. It'll stimulate your mind and touch your heart.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
First I have to confess that I might have been too careless when I decided to buy this book.

The book is described as the story of the Aboriginal people. But what actually is in the book seems more like a modern history of European aggression against the Aboriginal people from the European perspective.

There are two chapters (out of eight) devoted to the Aboriginal traditions and culture. However, the descriptions are so superficial that even Wikipedia can easily beat it.

If you are looking for a book describing how life was like in precolonial Australia and their myths and culture, this is NOT the right book.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
Ms Flood has set herself the challenge of avoiding the political diktat of our times and trying to give an honest and thorough account of what aboriginal culture and life was like at the time of first contact with whites and following. my own interest is to look at a 50,000 year old culture - the oldest on earth - as the human roots of us all, and learn more about the basics of being human. it should come as no surprise to any sensible and honest person, that the picture is one of violence, mistreatment of all who are physically weaker, especially women. there is also a harsh lesson on the fruits of supernatural belief insisting on no change, no innovation, no learning, no progress. isolation and stasis bear terrible fruits.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was leery about this book after reading the one-star review and comments about it being revisionist. However, it was free at the local library so I decided to give it a go. Most of the book is an excellent introduction to Aboriginal people, including chapters on their origins, traditions and culture. In every chapter, it seems if there is any dispute among researchers, the author presents the various views, the facts supporting those views, and ultimately takes a position one way or the other. Perhaps her acceptance of a particular view on genetics or archaeology might be questionable to a few academics, but for a general audience her positions seem to be reasonable.

The criticism of the book as revisionist comes into some areas that are more controversial, such as the reports of white massacres of Aboriginal people, the equal pay law, and the story of the stolen generation. As in the scientific chapters, the author presents various points of view, and then takes a position. She presents facts to support her point of view that massacres did happen, but not as many as claimed, and Aboriginal people killed white people too. She outlines facts to show that the equal pay law hurt the people because the pastoralists could no longer afford to keep them on and they were forced on to the dole. And though she reports that children were stolen from their parents, with horrible results, she also reports that many of those children grew up to be healthy happy adults who looked back on their schooling as a very good time.

Maybe all of those conclusions are true. But the feeling that came over me was that she was beyond objective -- she was aloof and distant from the pain. I imagine it would be heart-wrenching for many Aboriginal people to read parts of this book. They could well feel their experience was being denied.

I was also rather shocked that the last chapter, "Resilience," which I expected to cover contemporary art, music, and so on, was virtually mute on those topics. Instead, it repeated many of the grim socio-economic statistics already given, rather than presenting information about the revival and expansion of cultural traditions.

All in all, I'm glad I read the book as I did get some good information from it and can follow the footnotes to other sources. But there is much more to be learned, especially from Aboriginal authors. I do recommend Yorro Yorro: Aboriginal Creation and the Renewal of Nature. This author mentioned Born under the Paperbark Tree: A Man's Life and Moon and Rainbow: Autobiography of an Aboriginal neither of which I've read yet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Josephine Flood's "The Original Australians" isn't the only book you'll want to read about Australia's Aboriginal peoples, but it's an earnest effort by a scientist whose work is grounded in the archeological record and in firsthand observations in the field. Flood attempts to steer a middle course between two extreme campss: those who would simplifiy and ultimately patronize the original Australians by portraying them as a saintly raise of ecologists (see Tim Flannery's excellent "The Future Eaters" for a corrective about notions that the Aborigines, or any other race of human beings for that matter, ever lived in blissful harmony with nature), and those who would dismiss them as a crude, cruel, technologically backward race of savages. At times it seems Flood works a bit too hard to convince the reader that European-descended Australians weren't as cruel to their predecessors on the continent as has often been portrayed in recent decades, yet to her credit, she is careful to round up an honest range of viewpoints and treats them all with respect. This is a calm book, perhaps too calm at times. The author neither romanticizes her subjects (as in "Mutant Message Down Under" and other works in its vein) nor demonizes them. Still, there's much to be learned from it. Without question, the author has worked hard to present what she thinks is the middle ground on all things Aboriginal. After reading it I find myself hungry to read more about Australia and its first peoples.
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on March 17, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The Australian Aboriginal culture speaks to all human beings about what it means to be human, because of its age and its isolation. Also, such concepts of the Dreaming and the Songlines provide spiritual and aesthetic viewpoints that are literally timeless.

However, what I found most extraordinary in this book was a balance in thought and judgment that refused to cowtow to political correctness; but, instead, embraced all Australians, both aboriginal and "newcomers" in a context that avoided facile condemnations.

In short, this book provides a history of humanity's oldest culture that both celebrates it and explores its complete expression while avoiding both hagiography and condescension. I don't recall another work like it.
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on January 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
Very informative book, very positive in the way it treats the Original Peoples of Australia. Whoever left one star has a serious problem. If you are simply interested in the history of Australia, or if you need research material on the subject of the original Australians, this is the book for you. Great Info!
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on December 14, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Seems to be, presented as a text book. Very detailed and foot noted. Good for the person wanting to know the real details of the early settlers and inhabitants of Australia and Tasmania.
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on March 5, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
It's not and easy read , but because it is informative and there is so very much I have to learn while I am reading it I find it a challenge.
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on October 6, 2014
Format: Paperback
This was one of the most balanced books on the subject that I've read. Excellent.
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